Question & Answer

If I continue to work past retirement age will that help to stop me developing dementia?

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The Evidence

  • Dementia is a condition when someone has trouble with their memory and thinking skills, to the point that it negatively affects their daily life.
  • It has been claimed that working past retirement age might help to prevent dementia.
  • We looked for studies to find out whether or not working past retirement age helps to prevent dementia.
  • We found five individual studies on working past retirement age and dementia. All five studies were cohort studies. In this type of study, researchers follow a group of people who haven’t experienced a particular event or condition (like dementia) over a period of time. They observe what happens to those individuals, and compare the characteristics of those who eventually experience the event (like developing dementia) with those who don’t. This helps researchers to understand what factors might be linked with that event happening, but, a cohort study can’t tell us that something definitely caused a condition.
  • The first study reported that the men who retired at 68 years or older were at lower risk of mild cognitive impairment than those who retired age 67. Mild Cognitive Impairment is a condition when someone has some trouble with their memory and thinking that’s more than usual for their age, but it is not as severe as dementia.
  • The second study found that the participants who retired at 66 years and over had less chance of developing dementia than those who retired at 65.
  • The third study found that the chance of developing dementia was lower among those who retired aged over 60 compared to those who retired at 60 years of age.
  • The fourth study found that there is a lower chance of developing dementia if the retirement is at an older age (at least 1 year after the usual age of retirement).
  • In contrast, the fifth study found that those who retire on an early retirement scheme are less likely to develop cognitive decline. Cognitive decline is a condition when a person’s ability to think, remember and learn gets weaker over time.

Guidelines and recommendations

  • We searched several national and international organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Health Service Executive (HSE), for related guidelines and recommendations.
  • We did not find any guidelines or recommendations relating to working past retirement age and dementia.

Things to Remember


  • Lead Researcher: Dr. KM Saif-Ur-Rahman, Senior Research Methodologist, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway.
  • Reviewed by: Dr. Paula Byrne, Senior post-doctoral researcher, iHealthFacts, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway.
  • Topic advisor: Dr. Darren Dahly, Principal Statistician, HRB Clinical Research Facility, Cork, Ireland, and Senior Lecturer in Research Methods in the UCC School of Public Health.
  • Public and Patient advisor: Deirdre Mac Loughlin, Public and Patient Involvement in research (PPI) advisor, PPI Ignite, University of Galway.
  • Journalist Advisor: Dr. Claire O’Connell, PhD in cell biology, Masters in Science Communication. Contributor to The Irish Times, writing about health, science and innovation.

Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors have no financial or other conflicts of interest for this health claim summary.